As you all may know, the Minnesota Twins are down one game to none in their best of five series against the Damn Yankees.
When you lose a game in such a short series, you have to realize there was a problem, locate the problem, and fix the problem.
Many people would want to place blame on Jesse Crain for giving up the game-winning HR to Mark Texiera. Others would point to Liriano’s doozy of a sixth inning. Or maybe you’d point to the 10 runners left on base.
Indeed all those happened and are part of the loss suffered Wednesday night. However, I pose a far less obvious option. The manager.
I know, Gardenhire is manager of the year, a real nice guy, creates team unity, and so on. I believe all that. But his actions, or lackthereof, crippled the Twins in Game 1.
Here is the situation:
Liriano pitches five shut-out innings. There were struggles (too many balls), but he had put up five zeros in a row. Liriano allowed a flurry of walks and hits causing two runs to score. At this point the Twins still held a 3-2 lead.
Then, the manager didn’t walk out to the mound, he didn’t take the ball from Liriano, and he didn’t bring in Mijares or Crain.
After all that did not occur, Liriano gave up a 2 out, 2 run triple to Granderson.
The Twins did score another run to tie the Yankees, but once the lead was gone, the game felt like a up-mountain battle.
There were other opportunities to win, no doubt. Unfortunately the Twins couldn’t climb that mountain, and lost their tenth straight postseason game.
Back to my claim. There is no guarantee that taking Liriano out would have equalled a win, and during the regular season I would have handled the situation similar to Gardy. But the postseason is a different beast.
Every inning, every situation needs to be handled with extreme urgency. Liriano battled out of sticky situations all night, but when he gives up two runs with two more Pinstripers standing on base, you have to pull the trigger. The manager needs to smell when something is not right, and I could smell it from my living room couch.
Use your bullpen because there may be no more tomorrow. Actually, there is, and it’s a must win.